April 4, 2003

19th Annual San Diego International Film Festival

The 19th Annual San Diego International Film Festival (SDIFF) opens on Friday April 8 with the local premiere of renowned actor John Malkovich’s celebrated directorial debut of the thriller The Dancer Upstairs and closes on Friday April 18 with the acclaimed—and controversial, winner of two major awards at the Cannes Film Festival, the Palestinian comedy Divine Intervention.

SDIFF 2003 maintains it’s reputation for presenting outstanding local premieres of some of the best new films the world has to offer. This year, all four continents are represented, from Canada to Mexico, Scotland to Tanzania, China to Iran. Film lovers will be treated to feature length fiction and documentary titles as well as short live action and animation in two very popular annual collections: A Short Night! and Celebrating Animating! Genres include a riveting thriller, engrossing drama, sharp satire and engaging comedy.

Three festival firsts are titles from Tanzania, Iran and Palestine. Tanzania’s entry Maangamizi (The Ancient One) is the haunting story of three very different women. One is an African/American doctor interning at a Tanzanian hospital. Another is a patient who hasn’t spoken a word or made a sound since witnessing the horrific death of her tribal mother when she was a child. The third is the mysterious spirit of an ancient Shaman woman whose magical presence and power begin to draw doctor and patient closer and closer together.

Iran’s Daughters of the Sun tells the story of a sensitive young girl whose impoverished family’s desperate attempt to find a source of income depends on having a son who can both work and subsidize them. Since they have no son, they take their oldest daughter, shave her head, dress her as a boy and send her off to weave for a callous carpet maker. The ‘boy’ must maintain the masquerade if ‘he’ and ‘his’ family are to survive.

The festival closes on April 18 with Divine Intervention. This Palestinian title—an antic comedy and sharp social satire, not only won both the FIPRESCI and Grand Jury Awards at the Cannes Film Festival, but also has the dubious and highly controversial distinction of being presented as a nominee for an Oscar for Best Foreign Film. It was rejected sight unseen by the Academy because the Academy insisted Palestine isn’t a country. Neither is Hong Kong or any of the other long list of cities they do accept entries from.

Every film in the festival provides a unique and memorable viewing experience.

Canada’s Julie Hivon has won international praise for her film Ice Cream, Chocolate and Other Consolations. Jocelyn Ajami’s auteur tour de force Queen of the Gypsies, is a breathtaking portrait of the woman solely responsible for what we know as flamenco dance today.

Mexico’s Arturo Ripstein won three major awards—Best Picture, Best Screenplay and FIPRESCI International Critics Award, at the San Sebastian Film Festival for his dark comedy La Perdicion De Los Hombres. Huang Jianxin’s Marriage Certificate is a charming comedy about domestic bliss on the rocks.

The U.S. is represented by Jeff Stolhand’s Master of the Game is a chilling life-or-death test of wits between a Jewish prisoner and four Nazis at the end of WWII, and Peter Sollett’s tender and very funny Raising Victor Vargas (four out of four stars from FilmThreat) following the ups (Judy) and downs (Grandma) of Victor Vargas, a Latino teen/would be-Romeo living in New York City’s Lower East Side.

All films shown at the Price Center Theater. All foreign films are in their original language with English subtitles. All titles are subject to change!

For more information call our festival line at 858 534-0497 for up-to-date titles TICKETS: Series Passes: $65.00 GA; $40.00 Students (grants admission to all films); Individual ticket prices: $7.00 GA; $5.00 Students. Double feature price: $11.00 GA; $8.00 Students

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